Big Burley


Last week, our water heater went bad. Had I been a homeowner, I would have to come up with the money to have it replaced. Being a renter, Carolyn made one phone call and a new unit was in place the next day.

Johnson City’s last tobacco warehouse is no more. Sunday it burned into mostly ash and wreckage. JC used to be a hub for burley tobacco sales from farmers to corporations which produce cigarettes. In my day, there were at least three of the huge buildings around town but when cigarette sales in the U.S. fell and the government no longer supported tobacco prices, the city bought two of them and and had them demolished. The Johnson City Development Authority moves in a mysterious manner. The last time I was inside the one which burned on Sunday was the mid-1980’s when they had car shows in summertime. Burley tobacco was for years the main cash crop of local farmers; it mostly sold in November and December and it made clothing and Christmas presents possible for many children in the “Burley Belt”. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, JC was the home of a football bowl game; the (you guessed it) Burley Bowl which took place on Thanksgiving Day. It usually pitted the team from East Tennessee State College–now University–against one of the college teams from across region. JC had their Christmas parade the morning before the big game and people came from miles around to enjoy the revelry.

Elton John is coming to town in September! Oh, glorious day. Thoughts about this in a later post.

Have a Tuesday!

Published in: on May 15, 2012 at 11:39 am  Comments (12)  
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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great Pic, I Love It!!!
    I didn’t know about the Burley Bowl, very fitting for our neck of the woods.
    Enjoy Your Day, Paw!

    • Granny Dot and papaw John used to take me to the parades and most times Roy and or Fred would go with us. I never got to see one of the ball games even though I badly wanted to; none of them liked football.
      Have a good one, Jeremy πŸ™‚

  2. what a beautiful baby boy. so nice to see your photo Ken. I thought you didn’t allow too many photos to be taken of you. Now when I see you on your porch I’ll recognize you. Oh yes, don’t think for a minute that I have forgotten that Markie and I are coming to see you one fine day. apparently the city doesn’t feel the nostalgia about the tobacco warehouse as some do. There must be no money to be made on them or they’d leave them standing for sure. Elton John to that neck of the woods? interesting.

    • I hate flash photos; I am fair skinned and I always come out pink in the shots. This photo was a sneak attack on my dignity; I didn’t have time to hide behind Sammy. Oh yeah, I will be here and most likely sitting on the porch. The city always has “reasons” which I call rationalities for doing stupid things. I have a lot of memories from all three warehouses. JC used to get nearly all the big bands, etc. Elvis was here for a two night stand (Carolyn and Chris attended), AC/DC was the first sellout at Freedom Hall, Metallica, The Boss, all the southern rock bands, KISS, Bob Seegar, Willie, and many more. Aerosmith’s MTV video song Rag Doll audience scene was filmed there; my son was in attendance. Elton being here is not the surprise to me; it is him being here when another rocker wasn’t allowed to be. I’ll try to explain in the blog.
      Thanks, Tammy.

  3. I simply love the photograph!!! How nice to see you both. He is sitting on your knees, Ken, and looking so attentively at the camera. Who was a photographer???
    Lovely portrait of two sweet buddies. πŸ™‚
    Now I’m a bit busy but soon I get back here with more words.

    • Sammy is great, isn’t he?!
      Chris made the photo on her phone camera and had a print made and framed for Carolyn’s Mother’s Day gift. I call it Blue Boy and Pinkie. πŸ™‚
      I still haven’t combed my hair.
      Thanks, Jola. πŸ™‚

      • It’s so natural for Sammy that he is with his grandpa. He feels secure near you, Ken. Yes, Sammy is great. πŸ™‚
        I’m sorry that the last tobacco warehouse vanished. I know it was part of your youth, so precious for you, and I guess that it reminded you time of prosperity of JC. Link to the page (the article) doesn’t work, but this web site – Documenting of Nostalgic History of Upper East Tennessee – is really beautiful.
        Give my love to Elton John!

      • Thanks, Jola. I won’t be seeing Elton, I’m afraid … unless he waves when he flies over. πŸ™‚

  4. Beautiful picture of you and Sammy. I have a picture of you and Carolyn somewhere at the Kiss concert. (I will have to look for it). Have you been on the Freedom Hall web page to see the prices of the tickets for Elton John. I think they are expensive, but it will probably be a sell out.

    • I didn’t know any pics existed of us at a concert. Yep, I’d like to see it if you can find it. Well, I figured $50 would be too much to see anyone, except Pink Floyd. Those prices are outrageous. I wonder what they cost the last time he was here? Someone said the Bill Cosby tickets in Bristol or wherever are $350. Of course you get to hobnob with him after the show.
      Thanks, Alice. πŸ™‚

  5. How nice they let the last barn burn down.
    Concert prices for the old time big stars are quite often very expensive and for the most part not worth the price.

    Being a renter means you have no need to get up on a ladder.

    • The last barn had recently changed owners. State is looking for possible arson. Homeless will probably be blamed.
      We must respect out ladders!
      Thanks, Mark.

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